The goals were the result of mental breakdowns and miscues that seemed to multiply exponentially. A Marian Hossa goaltender interference penalty cut short a Chicago power play and then led to a Kings power play, during which the Blackhawks could not clear the zone, allowing Jeff Carter to block Corey Crawford 's view on the first goal by Jake Muzzin .
That was followed by a ghastly turnover by Duncan Keith that allowed Anze Kopitar to find Marian Gaborik alone in front because Brent Seabrook was too slow to get back into position after Gaborik had nailed him to the end boards.
Another power-play goal followed that came after an unnecessary offensive-zone roughing penalty to Patrick Sharp and again featured Kings players in behind the Blackhawks defenders, with Dustin Brown scoring his first of the series after Justin Williams redirected a pass to the uncovered Brown.
"Yeah, it's not obviously the way we drew it up," Keith said. "But we can draw on experience [from] before and knowing that there's always going to be adversity here along the way and just a matter of finding a way here and taking it one game at a time."
And give the Blackhawks credit. In the face of a crushing loss, their big-name players were all front and center answering questions.
"Obviously, it's frustrating right now, at the moment," Keith said. "We've got to take these next couple of days to regroup again and just find a way. Be excited about going back home into Chicago in our building. Really, that's all we have to do is win one hockey game. That's all our focus is on just winning one hockey game. We were in the same position last year against Detroit and found a way, so it's up to us to dig down deep and find a way and, like I say, just focus on one game now."
Twice this spring, the Kings have lost three in a row. The first time was when they went down 3-0 to San Jose and then roared back for four straight wins. They then lost three in a row to Anaheim after taking a 2-0 series lead in the second round. But this is a Kings team that embodies the playoff mantra of arcing toward greatness as the playoffs move along.
And, watching them win three in a row against a very good Chicago team, it's hard to imagine any circumstance that might see another three-game slide happen again.
Kings defenseman Muzzin, who blasted home the first goal of the game and is now tied for the playoff lead among defensemen with five goals, insisted there is no surprise about where the Kings are at in this series.
"Yup, we know what we have in here and we know what we're capable of," Muzzin said. "We believe in our guys and when we play good hockey, it's good enough."
By comparison, watching this Blackhawks team, humbled as they were Monday, reconfirms just how daunting the task of repeating as champions is.
The Kings followed this disappointing script a year ago, when they were the defending champs coming off their virtuoso run to the 2012 championship. Banged up and running on fumes, the Kings kept it close but were dispatched by Chicago in five games.
This spring, the Blackhawks have struggled to find consistence from the get-go. Yes, they won six in a row to close out St. Louis in the first round and then opened up a two-game lead against Minnesota. But they were only OK against the Wild while being forced to six games.